Spiritual Practices for the Beloved Community

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    In an earlier blog this year, I wrote about the influence of Martin Luther King Jr. on my life and his approach to social justice and peace. To create the Beloved Community we don’t need to have the gift of oration that King had, we don’t need to make tremendous sacrifices or put our life on the life. We need only connect with the love in our own heart and carry that into our work with conscious intent.

    The Beloved Community

    “The Beloved Community” is a term first coined by the theologian Josiah Royce, early in the 20th Century. Martin Luther King, Jr. used this term to describe the end-state of social change for greater justice and harmony between all people.

    From the King Center website the following summarizes King’s vision of the Beloved Community.

    Dr. King’s Beloved Community is a global vision, in which all people can share in the wealth of the earth. In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. In the Beloved Community, international disputes will be resolved by peaceful conflict-resolution and reconciliation of adversaries, instead of military power. Love and trust will triumph over fear and hatred. Peace with justice will prevail over war and military conflict.

    Dr. King’s Beloved Community was not devoid of interpersonal, group or international conflict. Instead he recognized that conflict was an inevitable part of human experience. But he believed that conflicts could be resolved peacefully and adversaries could be reconciled through a mutual, determined commitment to nonviolence. No conflict, he believed, need erupt in violence. And all conflicts in The Beloved Community should end with reconciliation of adversaries cooperating together in a spirit of friendship and goodwill.

    Weekly Steps as Spiritual Practice

    For those of you who support this vision, who want to align your gifts, passion and purpose to create such a world, think of one area where you feel drawn to put your energy. It could be in your work, community, or any organization that will help future generations live with greater justice and peace.

    Then read the six steps of non-violence below.

    • Focus on one step each day to practice the idea.
    • Review every night how you did with it.
    • At the end of the week, review the differences you made or how you felt doing this practice.
    • Reflect on how your faith came into play as you practiced these.
    • Note how your sense of connection to others shifts from this practice.

    The Six Steps of Nonviolence described by The King Center:

    Information Gathering – The way you determine the facts, the options for change, and the timing of pressure for raising the issue is a collective process.

    Do you collect facts with an open heart and open mind? Do you truly seek to understand what is happening before you move to be understood? How do you seek options for change and work with others to collaborate on ideas?

    Education – The process for developing articulate leaders, who are knowledgeable about the issues.

    How are you developing yourself as a leader and role model for others? Do you seek the thoughts and ideas from divergent viewpoints so that you can be fully educated on an issue?

    Personal Commitment – Means looking at your internal and external involvement in the nonviolent campaign and preparing yourself for long-term as well as short-term action.

    What does non-violence mean to you? What stirs your soul enough to work for greater justice and peace?

    Negotiation – The art of bringing together your views and those of your opponent to arrive at a just conclusion or clarify the unresolved issues.

    How willing are you to negotiate on an action? Do you hear the opposing view before you arrive at a conclusion? Are you willing to speak up so that others know your side of the story, learn from your perspective what is happening?

    Direct Action – Occurs when negotiations have broken down or failed to produce a just response to the contested issues and conditions.

    What steps do you take in your work and community to improve conditions for others? How do you act at home or at work with an open heart, from love and peace rather than anger or fear?

    Reconciliation – The mandatory closing step of a campaign, when the opponents and proponents celebrate the victory and provide joint leadership to implement change.

    What victories do you celebrate when you and others have worked hard to complete a project? Did anything shift in your own heart regarding your views or relationship with those you view as an opponent? How do you want to share leadership for continual improvements?

    Find ways in your work and throughout your week that you can practice doing these steps to create change right where you are. Leave a comment here to let us know how this practice worked for you.

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    For more resources, see our Library topic Spirituality in the Workplace.

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